Rossa di Toscana onions, treasure trove of antioxidants and anti-cancer properties

In the red onion rossa di Toscana, grown in Cannara, the Università di Perugia found large amounts of polyphenols which can induce the proliferation of anti-cancer immune system cells.

Cannara onion is one of the traditional products of Umbria, Italy: it has been identified as a traditional agricultural product by the Ministry for Farming, Food and Forests and is one of Slow Food’s Presidia. It includes three different varieties of ancient origin: rossa di Toscana, dorata di Parma and borettana di Rovato, all harvested in the surroundings of Cannara and all sweet and highly digestible.


A study published in the international journal Pharmaceutical Biology and conducted by the Department of pharmaceutical sciences of the Università di Perugia, compared three cultivars and found out that red onion Rossa di Toscana contains the highest polyphenol amount and better antioxidant properties, which determine higher average increase in the production of anti-cancer and anti-infective immune cells NK CD16+. Researchers, led by professor Benedetto Natalini, compared the total amount of polyphenols and the related antioxidant properties of hydroalcoholic extracts sourced from the bulbs of the above mentioned three cultivars.




“All methods have been fully tested before being used for the quantities determination. The phenolic extracts have also been tested in vitro for their capacity to induce in humans the proliferation of the cells of the immune system and, in particular, of lymphoid cells NK CD16+, known to tackle the cancer and infective processes. The rossa di Toscana, cultivated in Cannara, was the one that showed the most interesting results for the amount of polyphenols it contains, its antioxidant properties and its activity on the immune system”, said professor Natalini.




In the first two weeks of September in the beautiful municipality of Cannara, Umbria (southern Italy) there is the famous fair of Cannara onions, now in its thirty-fifth edition.




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